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Simvastatin may impact our immune system in a negative way

1 March 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

SimvastatinScientists from University of Siena conducting experiments using human cells discovered that simvastatin, a hypolipidemic drug used to control cholesterol, may impact our immune system in a negative way.

Research suggests that simvastatin impairs the ability of macrophages, white blood cells specialized in innate and adaptive immunity, to kill pathogens and also enhances production of cytokines which trigger and sustain inflammation.

“Statins are key drugs in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease,” said Cosima T. Baldari, Ph.D., a scientist from the Department of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Siena in Siena, Italy, who was involved in the research. “Our understanding of how these drugs affect the immune system should help maximize the benefits of these excellent drugs.”

Experiments on human macrophages incubated with a pathogen commonly found on the skin called Staphlococcus aureus lead to results showing that once the infection manifested the macrophages treated with simvastatin were significantly impaired in removing the pathogen and the killing of ingested bacteria compared to untreated cells. They also produced higher amounts of cytokines. Experiments conducted in vivo using mouse models yield similar results.

“Statins are lifesavers, but there might be room for improvement,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “Studies like this help pave the way for researchers to develop newer versions of drugs like statins that are more specific for their intended effect increasing the benefits of these pharmaceuticals.”

Source: EurekAlert!

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